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I have been reaching out to other abuse survivors to discover the impact the abuse has had on their lives. I know my own experience, but I need a broader view to make sure the curriculum I’m creating to help abuse survivors truly represents the struggles of this community none of us asked to be a part of. The feedback has been both heartbreaking and inspiring.

Survivors talk of the fear and anxiety they live with because they never feel safe. They talk of the shame, the feelings of worthlessness, of feeling judged by others. Many of us don’t share what happened to us. And we are many. All around you are survivors of abuse. The man who gets angry and lashes out. The woman who comes off as standoffish. Then there are the ones you wouldn’t expect. The mother at the park with her kids. The poised woman who always has on perfect makeup. The overweight couple at the grocery store. We are everywhere.

What do they want out of life? To feel safe in their environment and their own bodies. To love and trust themselves and others. To enjoy life and actually live it. I have found that place and I never want to go back. After my abuse I was a victim. Then I became a survivor. I didn’t kill myself, though I had the plans laid out to do it. I fought for healing. I learned to manage, to survive. I wanted more. I wanted what they want- to enjoy life and live it. To be a thriver.

For this I needed more than traditional therapy offers. When I ventured off the beaten path I found deeper healing in things like visualization, hypnotherapy, and energy work. One of the unexpected healing avenues came from my writing coach. The constant reminders to change the way I think, what I say, and to create my own reality for life changed everything. I saw for the first time that I had the power to create a different future because the brain processes fact and fiction the same. Belief is more powerful than fact. I pulled out the weeds my abusers had planted in the fertile garden of my mind and I planted my own seeds of who I wanted to be. They grew and I changed.

This is why I want to be a life coach for abuse survivors. I want to coach them, support them, and teach them how to be thrivers. Because being on this side is amazing. I love life. I feel safe. I am empowered. My anxiety is gone. My PTSD rarely rears it’s ugly head anymore. I honor who I am. I know who to trust and who not to trust. I have discovered how to have assertive communication so I say yes when I want to say yes, and no when I need to say no. I try new things. I feel alive.

It is because of the victims and survivors that I must move forward in building Rise to Thrive- a coaching program to support and empower survivors to achieve deep and lasting healing. I feel a stirring within my soul, a calling from a higher power, that this is what I must do. It is time take our power back from those who stole it from us. It is time to stand up, speak out, and find a way to protect others that they might not have to join our ranks. It is time to live.